Many residents of Echo Park, Elysian Heights and other nearby neighborhoods opened their mail boxes Tuesday to find a slick mailer from Barlow Respiratory Hospital. The mailer is part of the costly effort the century-old hospital has launched to develop its rustic, 19-acre campus next to Elysian Park into one of the largest-ever residential projects on the Eastside. While the mailer talks about how many – albeit – temporary construction jobs would be created, it fails to mention that the project would involve the building of more than 800 units of housing, a new hospital and retail shops totaling 1.2 million square feet of space.
Barlow officials say they need to win city approval of the massive development so they sell off the property and raise cash to build a new hospital that meets modern seismic standards in a corner of the site. It’s been a tough sell that has been complicated by the collapse of the real estate market. Hospital leaders and their consultants recently concluded a series of four, invitation-only meetings held with numerous residents, business owners and civic leaders. But those who attended the meetings -which were mediated by a city employee – said Barlow officials never offered to change their plans in response to concern about the size of the project and its impact on traffic.
While a note from Barlow CEO Margaret Crane ends with the line “Breathe Easier” the project is expected to generate a “significant” impact on air quality, according to a preliminary environmental review.
Image from Barlow Hosptial.